Personal Project, Willpower

The Willpower Instinct Project – Week 3

McGonigal, Kelly - The Willpower InstinctThings are FINALLY starting to pick up in the project and the book. I’m starting to see how my decisions (or unknown decisions) happen and when I miss them!

This week McGonigal asked readers to do two things and to think about a third. The first was to eat healthy snacks instead of junk food and to pick one thing to do different from our usual routine and do it. All while thinking about our “want power”; what it is that we ultimately want out of what we’re doing and to think about that when we struggle to accomplish our goal.

Well, not-shockingly, I failed miserably on the healthy snacks. It’s not an excuse, but phonathon started this past week and I started three 50-hour weeks and needless to say didn’t stick to my plan. I did eat mostly healthy food for lunch and dinner, but snacks I definitely did not do. I distinctly remember thinking a couple of times, oh I should get nuts or something from the vending machine and instead got chips. Fail, but I’ll keep working on it.

The most interesting thing that happened this week was from the second task of the week: pick one thing and stick with it out of the normal. As soon as I read the chapter I knew what that would be for me: taking the stairs on public transportation. When I went back to work in January I stopped using the elevators (it’s only three floors) and it was definitely a change, but I’ve gotten into the habit and its second nature now.

However, I didn’t realize how much habit plays into it! Duhigg talks about this in The Power of Habit and I had an incredibly prescient moment this week. After phonathon one night, and having stuck with the stairs (rather than walking up the escalator) for four days in a row, it was super late and I was working against time to get to a restaurant to grab some food for the walk home I found myself on the escalator. I still don’t know how I got there other than habit. Even as late as the T was pulling into the station and walking up the first set of stairs I envisioned myself taking the second set of stairs, but next thing I know I’m on the escalators walking faster. It actually took me by surprise and I stopped when I got outside and did a double-take.

It was the strangest feeling to have something from both of these books come into such clarity! I’m now excited again about where this project will go. Hopefully, I’ll start seeing other these types of things more often and start seeing ways to change/modify them! As for the last thing McGonigal asked us to think about, I’m still not sure. I know my overall goal is to be healthier and happier. And I know I’m on my way to that, but I’m sure there is something deeper that I haven’t found or refuse to identify so far.

Up next Chapter 4: License to Sin: Why Being Good Gives Us Permission to be Bad.

Check out previous weeks’ posts below:


10 thoughts on “The Willpower Instinct Project – Week 3”

  1. I would have done fine with the healthy snacks, but would have failed miserably at the “do something different from your normal routine” part. That might have given me anxiety. Heh.


  2. I’m terribly at eating healthy snacks! Definitely a good goal for me to try too 🙂 It’s crazy how easy it is to slip into routine. On multiple occasions, I’ve found myself driving to work when I was planning on stopping somewhere else first just because I stopped actively thinking about it for a minute.


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